Authorguy's Blog


Posted on: February 5, 2011

Finding the right cover for a book is a serious and intricate business. I posted a long time ago about some of the covers that had been created for some of my books, and at the time I posted my own idea for a cover to my latest novel, which I’m sure you already know is called St. Martin’s Moon.

It’s interesting how different people can have such different takes on the same piece of text. My idea for the story was more focused on the inhabitants of the lunar colony, and it showed. My publisher came up with a completely different cover for the story, for several reasons. First of all had to do with the availability of images. I don’t create my cover ideas with that in mind, so my idea used images that would have cost some money to use. Obviously my publisher wouldn’t want to spend money on something she could get elsewhere for free. I even found some images for that, but they were wolves and not clearly werewolves, which was another problem. She wanted the cover to be real, stark, dramatic, which meant no illustrations or cartoons. Since werewolves aren’t real obviously only an illustration would have been available, so equally obviously no werewolf image would appear on the cover.  The third element of the design was that it should reflect some element of the story, even if not the one I had in mind. Which this does. Hasn’t anyone ever wondered Why the Moon? when they see a werewolf movie?

Coming in February!

The image for Ex Libris is a different story. I had no input on this cover at all, but I have to say that she didn’t need any. This is a perfect cover image. Which isn’t to say that it was the one I came up with, long ago. I don’t think she knew about it or ever even saw it. It’s a bit darker, though, so perhaps that’s just as well.

I don’t know why I started coming up with these images, way back when. I guess it was when my second novel, A Warrior Made, was getting prepped and we had an hour-long pohone conversation about what the cover should look like. I stole the beginnings of an idea from a book I liked, This Immortal by Roger Zelazny, and made some modifications, which she modified even more. Since then I often come up with something and include it in the story folder. My first deliberately silly story had an equally silly cover, but I guess I suggested it too late.  Hopefully the even more silly sequel will get the cover I suggested. 

Now my publisher wants cover art ideas included with the documentation. No good deed goes unpunished, I guess. Do you ever have image ideas for your stories? Did they ever get used? Have you ever had an image idea when reading a story that was different from the image on the cover?


2 Responses to "Recovery"

Interesting post. I often find covers are one of the more awkward sides of publishing. The contracts I’m offered inevitably only allow me, as author, to be ‘consulted’ on such matters – even the final title is, if push comes to shove, down to the publisher. Casting back over a selection of my own covers, I can trace the general evolution of pop-design back fairly clearly.

The scary part, of course, is that I’ve been publishing long enough for the trends to be evident. Um….

Matthew Wright


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